Bloom Energy and the data center

If you missed it, it’s worth checking out my colleague Ucilia Wang’s interview with Peter Gross from Bloom Energy and Dean Nelson from eBay. The two companies collaborated on a fuel cell installation to power eBay’s Utah data center. EBay is making a big bet that natural gas infrastructure will provide a stable and clean solution to power one of its data centers (the company will have to buy biogas offsets to make the systems truly renewable).

On the other side Bloom Energy has long been trying to find traction for its fuel cell technology, historically selling to companies that want their own energy source on site or utilities looking for an alternative source of power generation. But it’s entry into the data center market is particularly interesting because it’s got the potential to sell to environmentally conscious customers that are very interested in their own power generation since uptime remains issue number one for any data center.

It’s very early days on that front and I still wonder if there’s a market for fuel cell powered data centers beyond the Apples and eBays of the world, which are flush with cash and concerned with being perceived as sustainably minded. But still, you have to start somewhere and if prices of Bloom boxes come down and natural gas prices don’t go up too much, the data center market could be a nice little revenue stream for the heavily funded Bloom Energy.